However, when they understood Jesus' claims in Jn 10, who Jesus said the "world" was in Jn 3.17 [17 generally follows 16], Paul's language in Ac 20 and Eph 5, and Paul's "us" and "we" language throughout his epistles, they realized that they had more to think about. We also discussed those texts which hint at the universality of the atonement [2 Pe 2, Heb 2, 1 Tim 2, and others]. Like a good rookie teacher, I left them confused for now. We are going to discuss it more in a few weeks. Still, there are a couple of things that I wanted them to draw from this.
First, cute and shallow evangelicalism sees the work of Jesus on the cross as merely an opportunity. Now it is all up to us. This is wrong; this is massively humanistic, anthropocentric, and far from the minds of any NT writer.
The cross is an accomplishment. It actually DID something. The cross is not just God kicking open a salvation door. It is God kicking open a door and, through His Son's death and resurrection, DOING a saving work. Even our Lord's dying words hint at this, "Tetelestai" ["it is finished"]. The cross and resurrection are more than a possibility, they are an accomplishment.
Second, after I gave them the options of limited or unlimited atonement, I told them that there are four things on which both sides would agree.
- Not all people will be saved.
- The gospel must be freely offered to all.
- The cross is sufficient for all.
- The cross is efficient for those who believe.
Some would even seek to rebut these four. That's pure pride. To me, there is a beauty to the fact that something actually happened on the cross - something definitive [Jn 17]. And at the same time, we are encouraged to dutifully and delightfully share the gospel with all peoples. Those who feel no tension here are the ones who just might have it wrong :)